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Emergent Tech


Internet of Things

Whatever happened to ... Nest?

Egos, bean counters and being Larry Page's buddy have stalled Google's consumer IoT plans

Remember Nest Labs? Google spunked $2bn (£1.41bn) on the home appliance outfit two years ago.

The acquisition was supposed to put Google-owner Alphabet at the heart of the "internet of things," and in the consumer mainstream. Nest cofounder Tony Fadell had been the design force behind the iPod as a contractor. Google mostly innovates through acquisitions rather than its own in-house R&D.

But, other than the odd reiteration, Nest hasn't released a new product since 2013.

Subscription news website The Information has dug around, and puts the blame on egos – Fadell's, principally – and also the bean counters within Alphabet. Nest's last product was a rebadged camera, the result of a $555m acquisition of Dropcam. But half of the employees acquired in that expensive grab have left.

Four new Nest products are in the offing, including Bluetooth key fobs and a low-power wireless hub codenamed "Flintstone," The Information also reveals. The trouble is, everyone else is making these too: Huawei and Samsung have comprehensive "connected home" products stacks. Even Amazon is miles ahead.

Fadell is a close friend of Alphabet CEO Larry Page, and was diverted to rescue Google's creepy wearable Glass. He's also rechanneled to be a performing "thinkfluencer" at the secretive celebrity events Google likes to host.

The Information's stories are here and here, and it's a subscription site. Which means you should pay for it. ®

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